Learning German from DuoLingo: Day 70
Today is day 70 in my ongoing effort to learn German by using the DuoLingo application. Before I get started, let me recommend this humorous essay by Mark Twain, The Awful German Language. I couldn't stop laughing when I read it the other night. I thought that this passage was especially funny (lustig):
Pixabay license: source
Personal pronouns and adjectives are a fruitful nuisance in this language, and should have been left out. For instance, the same sound, SIE, means YOU, and it means SHE, and it means HER, and it means IT, and it means THEY, and it means THEM. Think of the ragged poverty of a language which has to make one word do the work of six--and a poor little weak thing of only three letters at that. But mainly, think of the exasperation of never knowing which of these meanings the speaker is trying to convey. This explains why, whenever a person says SIE to me, I generally try to kill him, if a stranger.
Now, on to my recent progress. It has been five days since my last post, so I'm not going to remember day by day, but I'll discuss some of the topics. As noted previously, I am in the "Diamond" league, and as hoped, I have been able to focus less on competition and more on learning. In addition to DuoLingo, I have also been looking for ways to expose myself to the German language "in the wild", which is how I stumbled across that Mark Twain essay. I was looking for a public domain German essay that I could translate and got sidetracked. I am also continuing to listen to German language music videos with English captions on Youtube. Mostly, I've been listening to a Nena playlist and also to this Disney video that was recommended in comments by @jenniferalessio:
In the past few days, I made it to level 5 in "House 1", which completed the category. I also made it to level 1 in "People 1" and "Question 2", attained level 2 in "Conjunctions", and I began "Family 1" without yet (doch) completing any of the levels. When I get to level 5 in these four categories, I will have reached "Checkpoint 3". I also completed a number of practice exercises, whenever my hearts needed to be replenished. After the four categories that are currently unlocked, I think I'm going back to my previous strategy of focusing on just one category at a time. It seems like I'm not picking it up as well when I pursue multiple categories at the same time.
One of the most confusing things in recent levels is the way that words get reordered when conjunctions come into play. Quoting the tips section of the "Conjunctions" category on DuoLingo, it says:
Some German conjunctions push the verb to the end of the phrase.
An example of this might be: "Du isst, weil du Hunger hast." (You eat, because you are hungry.) Until now, I've been saying, "You are hungry" as "Du hast Hunger" -- literally, "you have hunger", but now when it follows certain conjunctions that gets rearranged to "Du Hunger hast" (you hunger have). And of course, this rule applies to some conjunctions and not others. For example, it seems not to apply to "und" (and), "aber" (but), "denn" (because), and "doch" (yet). Some conjunctions that it does apply to are: "weil" (because), "wenn" (if), and "obwohl" (although).
As they say, Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache.
In my previous post, I included words from "Conjunctions", "House 1", and "People 1". Here are some words and phrases from "Question 2" and "Family 1":
|Wo ist das Zimmer?||Where is the room?|
|Woher kommt sie?||Where does she come from?|
|Wohin gehe ich?||Where am I going?|
|Womit schreibt es?||What does it write with?|
|Irgendwie Irgendwo Irgendwann||Somehow somewhere sometime (Not a question, but "wo" reminds me of it. Learned from Nena)|
|Vater||Father (I remember this from Der Erlkönig)|
|Väter||Fathers (add umlaut)|
|Mütter||Mothers (add umlaut)|
And here are my current numbers in the application:
- Streak: 70
- Hearts: 5
- Crowns: 135
- Crystals: 230
- Lingots: 362
- XP today: 39
- League: Diamond
- Place in league: 15
- XP in league: 587
- Time left in league: 1d 7h 2m
- Followers: 4
- Words learned: 480 in app, 594 on web site
No new special characters in today's post, so the full table (so far) look like this:
If you want to learn a foreign language (or Klingon or High Valyrian), my recommendation for DuoLingo continues to be "thumbs up". According to the app, you can also use DuoLingo to learn dead or endangered languages like Latin, Navajo or Hawaiian.
My guess is that no one is going to learn to speak a language perfectly through DuoLingo, but I think it can provide a solid foundation that can be used to build additional knowledge through other, immersive techniques.